Published by UW Allen Center News
When the applause faded, Michael Gu sat down, shook his sleeves from his wrists and nodded to the conductor. Violins rose around him, waiting. After another pause, he began to play.
About 20 minutes later, following an energetic account of Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat major, he stood up, shook the conductor’s hand and bowed. Applause greeted him once again, this time accompanied by cheers.
It’s a sound that Gu, a first-year Allen School student, has become well acquainted with during his brief time at UW. Gu, who also studies piano performance, won the UW School of Music’s annual concerto competition in February. His rendition of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, performed with the UW Symphony in April, celebrated that victory. The concert also featured performances from the other concerto competition winners.
Does he ever get nervous out there? For the precocious Gu, who has been playing piano since he was little, performing music has become second nature, a chance to enter “a zone of clarity and focus.” When he lifts his hands over the keys, he said, everything — actions, thoughts, sounds — simply flows. The scenery melts away and there’s just the music left.
These days, he’s focused on finding that same level of comfort when he lifts his hands over a computer keyboard. Liszt, at least right now, comes easier than lines of code.
“Although I’ve had my fair share of terrifyingly difficult experiences with piano,” he said, smiling, “I would have to say that coding is harder.”